Missing June 7, 1962 from Bloomfield, Pittsburgh, Allegheny County
Date of Birth: August 15, 1951
Age at Time of Disappearance: 10 years old
Weight: 60 lbs
Hair Color: Brown
Eye Color: Brown
Clothing: White blouse, red shorts, white sneakers
Dentals: Not Available
Fingerprints: Not Available
On Thursday, June 7, 1962, little Mary Ann Verdecchia returned home after a half-day of class at the Immaculate Conception Roman Catholic School. She changed out of her school uniform into play clothes and told her aunt, Mrs. Ruth Riley, that she was going out to play. When she did not return home by dark, her aunt asked for police assistance. The hunt for Mary Ann turned into the largest search in Pittsburgh history.
Mary Ann was the product of what was called, in those days, a broken home. Her father, an unemployed steel worker, lived in the Lawrenceville neighborhood of Pittsburgh. Her mother had moved to Chicago. Neither were present in their daughter's life. Her Aunt Ruth gave the child a home, a family and love in the modest house on Morewood Avenue in Pittsburgh's Bloomfield neighborhood.
"You couldn't be cross with Mary Ann. She'd look at you with those big, brown eyes and you'd have to smile", said Sister Helen, principal at Immaculate Conception as quoted in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette after Mary Ann's disappearance. She's been described as a quiet girl who made friends easily and just wanted to be loved. It was a different time when, in any given neighborhood, everyone knew everyone and Mary Ann was no exception.
At around 2:30pm, Mary Ann went to the home of a friend who also lived on Morewood Avenue. The friend was ill and unable to come out to play so Mary Ann left.
Around that time (one found news reports states immediately prior) Mary Ann passed the Belvedere Bar on Baum Blvd. She waved to the proprietess, Mary Adancik, who was standing at the window. It was thought Mary Ann was on her way to the Martinique Apartments to visit Jean Emery, a former neighbor that Mary Ann had previously run errands for.
According to one news report, Mary Ann did, in fact, visit Ms Emery and played with her cat. She then left to go to the store for Ms Emery and returned to the Martinique. A janitor reported seeing her outside of Ms Emery's apartment on the 5th floor, trying the doorknob. This was possibly the last time the little girl was seen.
Did Mary Ann ever leave the Martinique?
Both of Mary Ann's parents were located, questioned and given lie-detector tests. Both passed their tests and were cleared in the child's disappearance.
The search for Mary Ann began the night she disappeared and continued for three months. House to house searches were conducted. Police, firemen, boyscouts and concerned citizens searched from the immediate area to Highland Park. A dime store bracelet that may, or may not, have belonged to Mary Ann, was discovered but no trace of the girl was found.
A 5-story apartment building at 4740 Baum Blvd, it's fate is as cloudy as the secrets it held. While the Martinique housed some prominent citizens and some everyday folk, it was not without it's scandals: from prostitution to shootings to bookmaking to murder to the unsolved disappearance of one of it's residents, Marcella Krulce.
Some news reports say that the building was demolished. Was the Martinique razed or did it just reemerge as another entitiy, perhaps in an attempt to shed it's previous unsavory reputation?
The Allegheny County Assessment website says that building information is unavailable, including the year it was built. The complex on the site today has apartments - now called Boulevard Apartments, a pizza restaurant, a bar and a sign for a now-defunct foreign car service business. Those businesses aren't so different from those that occupied the property 50 or 60 years ago. The building is old, but is it the Martinique?
The old image of Baum Blvd map is no longer available online, but check it out next to current Google Maps and Google Earth images. Same outline, same archway at the front, same pass through/tunnel front to back. Boulevard Apartments is not a "new" building. It would be interesting to know what is behind Joga's sign. Does it say "Martinique"? This site's owner called Joga's one day and asked if they knew what was behind the sign. The person I spoke with had no idea and had never heard of Mary Ann Verdecchia or Marcella Krulce.
The bottom photos are The Martinique and the building's incinerator. Both photos were taken in 1958, when resident Mary Regan was found murdered in her 5th floor studio apartment. The car dealership was where Vocelli's Pizza is today.
Click on images for larger views.
Top image shows the contact phone number to rent at the Martinique as Mayflower 3023, however, check out the bottom left image and the phone number. It's for the Superintendant at the Martinique renting out office or retail space. The number is MA (Mayflower) 1-1088. The ad on the right is from 2/3/1964 - less than two years after Mary Ann disappeared. Boulevard Apts. Newly painted efficiencies. Phone number 621 (Mayflower 1) 1088. Same phone number. It would appear that the Martinique still stands - and still holds her secrets. Click on images for enlarged views.
In the 90s, a Baldwin (Pittsburgh) man came forward to say that when he was a child, he'd been molested by a Presbytarian minister and that he'd also seen the minister kill and bury a young girl. Mary Ann was the only child missing in Pittsburgh during that time. Police excavated a 5-acre site the man led them to but no remains were found. The minister denied the allegations and always maintained his innocence.
Nobody worked harder in the search for Mary Ann than now-retired Chief Therese Rocco and the Pittsburgh Police. In the days of virtually no technology, they used good old-fashioned police work, leaving no stone unturned but despite their efforts, the little girl who only wanted to be loved was never found.
If you have any information about this case, please contact:
Pittsburgh Bureau of Police Missing Persons Unit 412-323-7800